Arsenal vs Manchester City: Arteta faces Guardiola in FA Cup semifinal

The FA Cup offers the first-time manager Arteta a chance to win his first silverware of his coaching career but his biggest stumbling block stands in the form of his friend Guardiola.

Arteta's Arsenal lost to Guardiola's Manchester City after football restarted last month.   -  REUTERS

It is another meeting between Pep Guardiola and his former assistant at Manchester City, Arteta, who joined Arsenal in December for his first senior coaching job and is already starting to make an impact.

The FA Cup offers the first-time manager Arteta a chance to win the first silverware of his coaching career but the biggest problem is the other manager involved at Wembley Stadium this weekend just cannot stop winning trophies.

Pep Guardiola has led Manchester City to eight of the last 10 domestic trophies on offer, including Community Shields, in one of the most dominant periods by any English team.

READ | Man City looking to tear Arsenal apart in FA Cup semi, says Walker

The Premier League may have been relinquished to Liverpool this season but City still has designs on a rare cup treble, having already captured the English League Cup and holding a 2-1 lead going into the second leg of its Champions League last-16 matchup with Real Madrid next month.

Arteta’s Arsenal is up against as the teams head to English football’s empty national stadium for the right to play in an August 1 final that will round off the country’s longest-ever season, lasting nearly 12 months.

City takes on Arsenal in the first semifinal match on Saturday, followed by United vs. Chelsea on Sunday in the first top-level games held at Wembley since football’s restart last month.

While Guardiola has had the luxury of rotating his team for league matches every three or four days since the restart, and Arsenal has been involved in a furious race for European qualification and won’t be arriving at Wembley as fresh as City, the defending FA Cup champion.

Arsenal has lost its last seven matches against City, conceding three goals on six of those occasions. However, the London team did beat City in the FA Cup semifinals in April 2017 near the end of Guardiola’s first season in charge of the holder, which wasn’t the trophy-winning machine then that it is now.

A 2-1 win over Liverpool on Wednesday showed Arsenal is on the right path under Arteta, who has been widely tipped as a potential successor to Guardiola at Etihad Stadium.

"I expect a terribly tough, tough, tough game, because they have something special already,” Guardiola said.

"They have team spirit (that) Mikel has created. From the outside - maybe I’m wrong - but what I see in their games, how they celebrate, how they fight for every single ball, they are creating something special for this club.”

Arsenal is attempting to become the first team to reach 21 FA Cup finals and will welcome back captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who started on the bench against Liverpool.

City usually fields reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in cup games but he is injured, so Ederson Moraes will keep his place. City fielded a virtual reserve team in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the league in midweek.

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